In the Media

Police still quizzing man over murder of schoolgirl

PUBLISHED November 8, 2006

Police are continuing to hold a man today over the brutal murder of a schoolgirl who disappeared while running an errand more than 30 years ago.

Officers arrested the 53-year-old from Oldham, Greater Manchester, over the unsolved murder of 11-year-old Lesley Molseed yesterday.

The breakthrough comes five years after police began a fresh investigation to find the schoolgirl's real killer.

The move followed one of the worst miscarriages of justice in recent times. Tax clerk Stefan Kiszko was convicted of the crime and spent 16 years in jail before forensic tests proved he was innocent. He was freed in 1992 but died of a heart attack a year later at the age of 41.

His broken-hearted mother Charlotte, who had doggedly championed his cause, died six months later.

Three years ago, new scientific techniques enabled West Yorkshire Police to obtain a DNA profile, but until now it has been used only to rule out suspects.

Police are refusing to say whether the arrest of the new suspect, a 53-year-old man from Oldham, Lancashire, who has not been named, was a direct result of the DNA match.

Lesley went missing after leaving her home in Delamere Road, Rochdale, at noon on Sunday October 5, 1975. Her mother had sent her to a local shop to buy a loaf of bread.

Her body was found three days later on moorland above the A672 in Ripponden, West Yorkshire. She had been sexually assaulted and stabbed 12 times.

Police decided Mr Kiszko, a misfit with no social life, fitted the killer's profile. Then 23, he had never been in trouble but three 13-year-old girls claimed he exposed himself to them before Lesley's murder.

He was arrested and confessed after two days of intensive questioning in the absence of a solicitor.

Mr Kiszko later claimed the confession was bullied out of him and insisted he had never met Lesley. But he was convicted of murder at Leeds Crown Court in 1976.

Years later the teenage girls admitted their claims were false and they had identified him for 'a laugh'. It was also revealed that the scientific evidence which eventually cleared Mr Kiszko had been known at the time of his trial.

Mr Kiszko was infertile and unable to produce sperm. A pathologist found traces of sperm on Lesley's clothes but a semen sample obtained from Mr Kiszko by police contained no sperm.

Mr Kiszko developed schizophrenia in jail and spent much of his time in solitary confinement. He was refused parole because he would not admit his guilt.

The revelations of his ordeal and wrongful conviction caused a public outcry and in 2001 West Yorkshire-Police, armed with DNA science-not previously available, formally relaunched the murder hunt.

The first key breakthrough, to obtain a positive DNA match of the murderer, was announced three years ago by Chief Superintendent Max McLean.

He said at the time: 'It may be that someone has harboured a suspicion for 27 years that a friend, relative or acquaintance could have killed this little girl. We now have the ability to eliminate these people once and for all. This is an extremely simple process and I would implore people to tell us of their suspicions.'

All existing suspects were eliminated by the DNA, but an appeal on the BBC's Crimewatch programme produced 90 new names which police were checking.

Lesley's mother April and sister Julie Anderson have been closely following the developments.

Her mother was not available for comment yesterday but she said of the DNA breakthrough: 'We were absolutely elated, really, it's like all our Christmasses rolled into one.'